Ultiworld’s Club Awards 2022: Coach of the Year (Men’s)

The best three coaching staffs of the 2022 club season.

Ultiworld’s 2022 Club Awards are presented by Breakmark; all opinions are those of the author. They have given away almost 1000 reversibles this year and want to get to 2500 and beyond. Find out how you can help and get yours at Breakmark.com!

Ultiworld is pleased to announce our annual Club Awards. While we consider both regular season and postseason performance, because of the nature of the Club Division, we weight success in the Series and at Nationals above all else. The Club Awards are voted on by Ultiworld reporters, contributors, and editors.

The Coach of the Year closes our annual awards. As so many teams have added more and more sideline-savvy consultants to their roster with less asked of a single head coach, this has essentially morphed into “Coaching Staff of the Year.” Coaches can impact the game in so many ways — tactics, motivation, communication, personnel management, program development, skill-building, etc. — and it can be hard to divine what exactly each has contributed to their team. But good coaching is something that we feel that ‘we know it when we see it.’

Player of the Year Award
All-Club First Team
All-Club Second Team
Offensive Player of the Year Award
Defensive Player of the Year Award
Breakout Player of the Year Award
Coach of the Year Award
Club Awards Voting Breakdown

2022 Coach of the Year

Alex Crew, Daniel Hartsoe, Darryl Stanley (Washington DC Truck Stop)

Washington DC Truck Stop’s Alex Crew. Photo: Brian Canniff — UltiPhotos.com

When you oversee the creation of perhaps the most effective offensive unit in the history of the sport, the plaudits come flooding in. And while this season did indeed mark a pinnacle for Truck Stop – winning the US Open, Pro Champs, and making the final at Nationals as the top ranked team in the country – it is part of a multiyear project undertaken by the coaching staff to sculpt this legacy DC program into something fresh and new in the club division. A renovation of the Truck Stop, if you will. It’s not an accident that Truck Stop had its most successful ever season in 2022; this coaching staff has been building towards it for years.

The Darryl Stanley-era Truck teams have been sculpting a novel approach to small ball offense for years, one that is less North Carolina/Brown-style spaced out handler dominator, and more distributed, integrating all seven players on the line. The approach got supercharged this season, the philosophy expressing itself fully as the right personnel pieces came into place, both from internal development and the integration of new players.

Of course, it’s one thing to design an intricate small ball attack that no one can figure out how to stop, and its another to get players physically and mentally prepared to run it. Truck Stop’s coaches pulled off both parts of that equation this season, the chalkboard and the locker room. There is no one secret to how they managed it, but the word you hear over and over again regarding Truck Stop this season is “trust.” Trust in their offensive systems, trust in the players to execute complex movements and throws over and over again, trust that they had put the work in over the season (and seasons before) to pull through in big moments. Defensively, the team tried to create moments where they trusted their big playmakers to win 1:1 matchups.

It tools several years of embracing and trusting new faces on the team, drawing from and nurturing the youth pipeline around DC, but the Truck Stop coaching staff’s remodeling efforts have been wildly successful. The scary thing for the rest of the division is that 2022 may have just been the beginning.

-Patrick Stegemoeller

First Runner-Up

Joe Durst, Tim Kefalas, Michael Lun (Denver Johnny Bravo)

Denver Johnny Bravo’s Joe Durst (left). Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – Ultiphotos.com

It wouldn’t be that hard to throw the coaches who helped lead Johnny Bravo to their title onto the podium and call it a day. They coached the best team-of course they’re great coaches or at the very least deserving of recognition. That much can be true, but to leave it at that would be a disservice both to the schematic impact and big-picture leadership this group offered.

The interpersonal connections Lun, Durst, and Kefalas have formed with their players on Mamabird, Summit, Lotus, and this year on Bravo shone throughout the highs and lows of Bravo’s run. As the team seesawed through an up-and-down season that saw them lose a winnable regional final, but play well in earlier matches like their US Open win over Truck Stop, the Bravo coaching staff kept the ship steady enough to sail full steam ahead once the waters smoothed out in the bracket at Nationals. Besides, coaches all over the country spent the whole season trying to solve Truck Stop’s offense–it seems like Kefalas and the rest of the crew finally did it in the game that matters most. That’s gotta count for something.

-Alex Rubin

Second Runner-Up

Ben van Heuvelen, Bryan Jones, Cody Mills, Justin Pierce (New York PoNY)

New York PoNY’s coaches in a huddle with some members of the team. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – Ultiphotos.com

New York PoNY’s coaching staff faced serious adversity in 2022. Balancing a “double peak” year with WUCC (and a triple peak for those on the team who won a title with the NY Empire in the AUDL); missing key players for big chucks of the season due to World Games; big injuries to important players, headlined, of course, by the horrifying collision that knocked out Grant Lindsley in the semifinals of Nationals. You could probably be justified in giving this coaching staff an award solely for how they managed to keep the team together in that game.

While PoNY’s coaches may be disappointed to walk away from the season without a national title, they can take solace in knowing how well they responded to the adversity the season offered. There was no big collapse at Nationals after winning worlds, like we saw from Revolver in the final in 2018. Instead, PoNY went out like you expect champions would, going down swinging in one of the best played games of the entire tournament despite the loss of Jeff Babbitt and the emotionally devastating injury to Lindsley, losing to a Truck Stop team that was playing out of their minds on the night. It’s a season to be proud of for the PoNY brain trust, even if the ending was bittersweet.

-Patrick Stegemoeller

  1. Ultiworld

    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.

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